Staff members from Arts Council perform on stage to better understand communityThe quality of acting on a Daehangno theater last Saturday afternoon was not quite up to the standards one would expect on a stage in the heart of the Seoul theater district.
However, the audience gave their loudest cheers when the 16 performers stood in a neat row to take deep bows.
The play, “Nabi-nun,” which premiered last weekend at the Arko Arts Theater in northeastern Seoul, was written to let a group of administrators from a government-led cultural organization stand on stage and experience the field for which they usually sign papers.
The actors were staff members from Arts Council Korea, the biggest bureaucratic group to support cultural and arts programs in the country. Shin Yong-mok, a poet and Arko webzine editor, wrote the script and Arts Council Korea’s secretary general Sim Jae-chan directed. Kim Byong-ik, the chairman of the organization, played “Passersby No. 3” while the labor union head of the arts group played “Passersby No. 4.”
From what could have ended as a mere party of their own, however, the play grabbed attention from professional actors as well as the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Musical actress Choi Jeong-won and Park Yang-woo, the vice minister of the culture ministry, offered to take part in the drama as well. Ms. Choi and Mr. Park took turns playing the Chinese delivery boy, or girl, in a scene where they delivered jjambbong, or spicy hot noodles, to a group of homeless people (also played by the council staff) waiting for a meal on an underground platform of a subway station.
“Did anybody order jjambbong here?” the Chinese delivery boy yelled in his best dawdling tone as he skidded to the center of the stage, to a burst of laughter from the audience. “I am from Arts Delivery Chinese Food. Wherever you need us, we come right to your door to serve you the best food in the Arts Delivery style,” he went on.
“Our staff have been practicing for the past two months to stage this play,” said Kim Sung-ryang, a PR coordinator on the Cooperation and Communication Team of Arts Council Korea. “It’s an effort to bring bureaucracy and arts together. This way the office staff can have a deeper understanding of the artists they support.”
“We have only been appreciating art from the audience seats,” said chairman Kim. “This was a chance for us to experience what a hard time they have before they stage a work.”
“Nabi-nun,” literally meaning, “butterfly snow,” depicts seven homeless people wandering around the Seoul Subway station. The leader of the gang is a strong character despite being covered in wounds from selling his organs. Following him are a mentally challenged group including a married couple who believe the world is coming to end, a “former intellectual” who mistakes a pregnant homeless woman for his wife and a “former labor union member” who hallucinates that he is taking part in a violent protest.
by Lee Min-a